Ski Area Impacts on the Environment

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One of the most visible and mutual environmental impacts of ski areas on the environment is deforestation and grading of slopes. In order to service a multitude of winter sport enthusiast, mountain slopes must be cleared of dense forest in order to make way for ski runs and lifts. With the ski industry in the US showing steady numbers (Satistica) resorts have to come up with new attractions to keep past patrons and attract new customers. One of the ways that they do this is by opening up new terrain, which increases the amount of deforestation damaging the local vegetation. Ski resorts essentially have two options in creating new terrain. First clearing runs by removing trees and other woody vegetation, leaving the topsoil and seed bank intact or by grading slopes by using bulldozers to remove any abnormalities. The second method is preferred as it is faster and more efficient and allows for the slope to be opened earlier with less snow pact.(USA) The impacts of grading slopes by bulldozing destroy the vegetation, reduce the topsoil and greatly contribute to erosion. The removal of woody vegetation can also lead to a drastic change in the local vegetation in order to keep the trails clear it requires constant trimming of the new growth of unwanted vegetation that can help anchor topsoil in place and provide better growing conditions for other plants. The destructive method of bulldozing runs not only leads to environmental degradation but also can be counter productive. According to a UC Davis study, while clearing slopes of vegetation and irregularities by bulldozer might result in opening earlier than other resorts the increase in maintenance, will likely offset any monetary gains (USA).


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...rather than in undeveloped and remote areas. By choosing to stay close to urbanized areas the impact is much more concentrated meaning animals have more habitat and are less likely to venture into human areas and become a nuisance. You can also help wildlife by obeying city laws and regulations regarding proper trash and food disposal. You can also respect local wildlife by staying out of out of bound areas that are often meant for wildlife and following the leave no trace principle of you pack it in you pack it out, meaning taking your trash with you off the mountain and not littering. You can also help the local wildlife by keeping a respectful distance and trying not to disturb them when you do happen to come across a wild animal. This has the upside of preserving the local environment as well as the scenic atmosphere that draws many visitors to the mountains.

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